Who Are We ?
In 1984 a small walking holiday company was created, based in the beautiful Val d’Azun in the heart of the French Pyrenees. This company, named « La Balaguère » after the warm breeze that blows upwards from the Sahara to the Pyrenees, offered guided walking trips led by a small group of friends with a huge passion for the mountains.
Little by little La Balaguère expanded and more than 35 years later we help over 13,000 people every year enjoy walking and cycling holidays in the Pyrenees and further afield, to the most unspoilt areas of the world.
In 2018 we launched a new and exciting project. Purely Pyrenees is the English language branch of our business, offering self-guided and guided trips, walking and cycling from Spring to Autumn and snowshoeing in the Winter. Using our decades of experience we created a new range of holidays designed for English speakers who come, maybe for the first time, to experience the best the Pyrenees has to offer. Our focus is always to provide highlights, iconic places to visit, wonderful itineraries, authentic hotels and, of course, tremendous cuisine.
Purely Pyrenees and La Balaguère are now owned by the UCPA (Union des Centres Sportifs de Plein Air) which is a non-profit organisation in France that specialises in making outdoor sports holidays available for all. We are still based where we have always been, in the Pyrenean village of Arrens-Marsous.
We are very proud of our Pyrenean chain and of the knowledge that we have of it, amassed over years of providing guided and self-guided holidays. You can be sure that if you travel with us we will do everything we can to make sure you have a wonderful trip.
We Pyreneans are proud to belong to the prestige collection of the world’s greatest mountain ranges – the Rockies and Andes, the Himalayas and Caucasus, the Alps and Pyrenees.
The Pyrenees are upto 80 miles wide and less than 300 miles coast-to-coast, but well over 500 miles by walking paths, and cram in a huge amount of variety. Our natural trees, shrubs and flowers are as varied as they are useful and beautiful. We can grow sub-tropical crops in our gardens, yet have snow resting in gullies right through the summer. We are as keen on walking in summer as we are snow-shoeing in winter. We have wild bears as well as our unique “goat-antelope”, the chamois, while our cows and brebis (tough mountain sheep) share the high pastures in summer with cuddly marmots and lightening fast pine martens.
We are a peace loving people (as all mountain people tend to be) except when unreasonably challenged – for example by Muslims from the south (we stopped their advance in the 9th century), and Catholic forces from the north in the 13th century – but we have always welcomed pilgrims using our ancient pathways to cross our mountains on the St James route to Santiago de Compostela. Yet left to our own devices, we love nothing more than the quiet life: farming and family, walking and cooking, community life and the education of our children (we are among the best performing regions in Europe). Here we live without frontiers – borders are rarely visible between Spain and France - and our ancient Catalan culture unites us.
And culture is something we are particularly proud of. We are as proud and protective of our large numbers of medieval monasteries, hermitages, churches, citadels, walled villages and towns, museums and art galleries as we are of our many natural wonders including Cirque de Gavarnie, Mont Perdu, Spanish Lakeland, the Pyrenean Mediterranean coast, and numerous glorious valleys.
These are just some of the reasons why visitors tend to get The Pyrenean Bug. It’s a very benign Bug that makes you want to come back time and time, not least because there is so much more to discover and enjoy. To be honest, Purely Pyrenees is both a cause and cure for that Bug. All our walking and cycling itineraries are packed with Pyrenean highlights – often 2 or 3 in just one day – so we help you to catch the Bug, and cure the itch – temporarily at least.
The simple fact is that when you come to the Pyrenees, you will discover its wide ranging pleasures and pleasant surprises for yourselves. We don’t need to “sell” it to you. We just need to make sure you get the experience that’s right for you – that best meets your needs and wants. And that’s what Purely Pyrenees is all about: you and Your Pyrenees. We are sure you will enjoy it as much as we enjoy Our Pyrenees.